Getting To Know Carrie Brewer: A Masterly And Reputable Actress In The Industry
Tell us a little about yourself, where your from, grew up, what H.S./College you attended etc.
I was born just outside of Chicago and then moved around for several years (Indiana, Tennessee) before landing in Connecticut when I was nine. I lived in a beautiful, little shoreline town called Madison, and developed a love for singing and the theater at Daniel Hand HS. Big shout out to “Mr. D” who helped me discover it all. After graduation, I went to the University of Connecticut for acting, studied abroad in England and had the amazing experience of working at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre while it was being built in 1995.
What inspired you to be a entertainer? Early experiences worth sharing?
According to my mother, I was singing before I could talk. As far as I can remember, I had always been singing — in church, school chorus, and non-stop at home. I decided to audition for the musical in ninth grade, Godspell, and I was hooked. When I first started my career, I was convinced I was going to be on Broadway in musicals — aren’t we all. But it was in college during a production of The Three Musketeers that I discovered stage combat and my career began to head in a different direction. After a life-changing job as a princess in the original cast on the very first Disney Cruise Line, I was fight captain for Fight Director Rick Sordelet, and he sort of took me under his wing.
I started teaching and choreographing fights, and learned all I could about the art of stage fighting from then on- and loved it. I started my own theatre company in NYC, The Lady Cavalier Theatre Co, and spent the next 20 years, producing my own fight-related work, teaching stage combat at AMDA and other schools, and choreographing for companies all over NYC. I essentially stopped singing for that whole time, but I was still creatively thriving. I’ve always described the divergence as being on a different branch of the same tree, so I wasn’t too worried about it.
Talk about a time where you have faced adversity/conflict and have triumphed.
I recently had the honor of playing Cleopatra in The Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s Antony and Cleopatra. For a woman in her 40s, I believe there is no greater role, especially in Shakespeare, and I was beyond thrilled to have been given the opportunity. As we were nearing opening, I became aware that there was a lot of controversy within the theatre community here in Nashville, surrounding the fact that I, a white, red-head, was playing the role that has so often in recent years been given to women of color. It’s honestly difficult to put into words because, of course, I support the notion and if there had been a non-white woman who was best for the role, I would have whole-heartedly supported her. The director and artistic director assured me that it was not about me, that they had given the role to the person who best fit the director’s vision, and I know the company to be unmatchable in this area when it comes to diverse casting. As a point of fact, Cleopatra was Greek, not African, but that didn’t seem to matter.
The controversy even ended up on NPR. It was very difficult to separate myself from all the negativity and to not let it put a dark shadow over the whole experience, but I did my best. I didn’t read the social media comments, I just looked within myself to be the best damned Cleopatra I could be, and I’m very proud of the work I did.
What do you believe sets you apart from other people in the world of entertainment?
I think what makes me different is my versatility. I’m a good utility player, to use a sports metaphor. I can sing, act, “move well”, fight, teach, produce, market, etc. I’ve been so used to doing things myself, that I’ve developed a whole bunch of skills that are useful. Sometimes I feel like a jack of all trades, master of none… and I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.
Do you have other interests or hobbies?
My hobbies are my kids! I’m a mom to two amazing girls, 5 and 11 years old, and they keep me very busy. We’ve got soccer, piano, horseback riding, gymnastics, sleepovers, rehearsals, and homework. When I’m not working or doing an audition, I’m with them. I do love to ride my bike along nature trails and go to yoga, too… I just need a bit more time in the day to do it all!
Any projects you have out or currently working on?
I will be fight directing the 2020 production of Macbeth for Nashville Shakes. Not to give too much away, but there are going to be a lot of female players. I’m really looking forward to getting broadswords into the hands of some women around here to get them ready to audition for this very fight-heavy show.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
I really feel like I’ve found my artistic home here in Nashville. For the last year, I have been the Marketing Director for The Nashville Shakespeare Festival, and I still get to act, sing, and teach. It’s the perfect situation really. In 5 years I just hope to be better than I am now in everything. I’m lucky.
What advice can you give to aspiring entertainers?
For up and comers: try to work as much work as you can to gain experience and confidence. Be kind to everyone — and don’t get your union card too soon!
How can we follow along in your journey? Social media?
Well, If you see something about The Nashville Shakespeare Festival, there’s a good bet it got posted by me. And of course people can follow me on social media, but I am mostly active on Facebook… with the rest of the old people. LOL